There's nothing cuter than little kids learning to ski. All those fluoro-clad ducklings following their "mother duck" instructor in single file, legs akimbo down shallow inclines.
The little ones all look like naturals. Our Daniel's instructor, Isobel, says the secret to kids' success is their low centre of gravity and lack of fear. For those of us with higher ages and centres of gravity – who find sliding uncontrolled on frozen water with sharp-edged implements schussing by somewhat outside our comfort zones – it's harder. Even on the gentle slopes.
The Snowsports School at Falls Creek specialises in humiliating parents by turning their children into better skiers than they are – in just a day. Catering for three- to 14-year-olds in half- or full-day (including a hot lunch) group lessons, the kids make friends as they learn the skills, safety and etiquette of the snow. Daniel returns from his lesson with a major crush on Isobel and can't wait to get back into it, but not before an exhausted 10-hour sleep.
Parents who enrol a child in Snowsports School for a day can take a coffee break and group lesson after drop-off for $65 – the normal price – with a day lift pass thrown in, a saving of $120. And that's each day your child does a full day at Snowsports School.
"Skiing is awesome!" says Daniel on the second morning. And it is. We all make steady improvement, thanks to our patient instructors.
Falls Creek is an excellent resort for beginners and experts alike. There are plenty of easy runs – including the 2.4-kilometre Wombat Ramble, Australia's longest beginners' run – and the terrain offers comfortable increments that allow for steady progress until you are ready for the advanced runs: the ominously named Widow Maker and Black and Blue. All this and spectacular alpine scenery from every corner of the resort. Mountain peaks glisten in the sunlight, lines of snow gums sweep down the sides of the ski runs, dotted with skiers and boarders carving arcs in the pristine white. Sunlight comes and goes, mists drift by at head height and the chill air thrills the lungs. It's magical.
Between face plants and bum soakings, we're staying at QT Falls Creek and our suite overlooks the Express Quad chairlift. Ski and equipment hire is in the same building as Snowsports. It's all so convenient, especially if you have no idea what you are doing and want to save energy for the white stuff rather than trudging around getting everything together. Falls is 100 per cent ski-in, ski-out, meaning all the accommodation is on the mountain and you can ski to and from your front door, but there is also an over-snow service to get you around the resort if needed. And QT is drive-in, drive-out, too, so the coach takes you to your door.
And it's great to see so many disabled skiers in specially designed chairs ripping into it, too. Falls Creek Snowsports and Disabled WinterSport Australia (DWA) both have dedicated instructors and advanced adaptive skier programs.
QT's accommodation adds an extra layer of enjoyment. Voted Australia's Best Ski Property in 2014 and 2013 (as Quay West Resort & Spa) by Luxury Travel Magazine, QT offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, as well as a penthouse, all with views over the valley, mountains or ski fields. Think plenty of space, private balconies with hot tubs, heated floors, a drying cupboard for your soggy gear and then there's spaQ day spa, for that perfect apres-ski massage.
As daylight fades and the last of the hardy ski home, the snow-covered streets are filled with happy, hungry people squelching their way to their choice of the 35 bars, restaurants and cafes on the mountain. Everyone is smiling, especially the kids.
Five places to eat and drink in the QT precinct
QT's Bazaar restaurant offers a buffet breakfast and a la carte and buffet dinners. Bazaar is child-friendly, too, with a dessert station including bubble-gum-flavoured macaroons and piles of ice-cream.
Stingers is a well-placed pit-stop for a cocktail, hot chocolate and a quick bite between runs. Staples include French fries with parmesan, mini-burgers and a range of Mexican munchies.
Huski Lodge, a new dining experience for 2015, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Summit Ridge Restaurant is part of one of Falls Creek's finest boutique ski lodges and offers five-star dining and an impressive wine list.
Milch Café Bar has a great cocktail and schnapps list. The menu includes share plates, vegetarian and home-baked cakes plus a menu for "Little Monsters".
Qantas flies daily from Sydney to Albury (qantas.com.au); Falls Creek Coaches pick up at the airport and drop at QT for $95 return for adults and $80 for children (fallscreekcoachservice.com.au). You can drive to Falls Creek (about 10 hours from Sydney, five from Melbourne) and park on the mountain; spaces are limited and fill quickly on good snow days. Consider leaving your car in Mount Beauty and catching the bus up to the resort.
QT Falls Creek, 17 Bogong High Plains Road. Rates vary according to apartment size and dates. The average nightly rate for a two-bedroom apartment is around $1052 peak season and $643 low season. Phone (03) 5732 8000; see qtfallscreek.com.au.
SEE & DO
Take a break from the skis and check out snow tubing, tobogganing, snowmobile tours, back-country tours and the weekly Night Show Spectacular.
The writer travelled courtesy of Falls Creek Ski Lifts and QT Hotels.